Gaming routers might be overkill for a lot of us, but if you’re looking for low-latency performance and advanced features, here’s what we recommend.
If you keep getting scored on when you play Rocket League or shot dead when you try your hand at Fortnite, well… maybe you just aren’t very good at competitive online gaming. Then again, if you’re plagued by persistent lag during those critical split-second decisions that make the difference between victory and defeat, then perhaps your internet connection is to blame. And, if that’s the case, then you might be tempted to upgrade your router.
You’ve got lots of options that promise to boost your gaming performance — so are they any good? And if so, which one should you buy? Is it worth splurging big on one that supports the speedy new Wi-Fi 6 standard?
Before buying anything, I’d recommend reading over my beginner’s guide to gaming lag to see if there isn’t anything else you can do to help bring your ping down — something as simple as moving your router to a different spot might make all the difference you need. But if you’ve tried all of that and you’re ready for an upgrade, worry not: We’ve spent months testing these things out, and we’re ready to make a couple of recommendations.
After months of tests, the Asus RT-AC86U is the gaming router I’d recommend first. Currently selling for about $150, it offers terrific performance and features for the price. In fact, it was the top overall finisher in our latency tests, and it hit the fastest speeds on the 5GHz band of any router outside of the super speedy Wi-Fi 6 models we tested. It boasts an excellent app and web control interface, including a helpful quality of service engine and lots of other ways to optimize your connection, and the design is gamer-friendly without being too over-the-top. If you want a gaming-minded router upgrade but you’re worried about buying more than you need, look no further — this router hits the sweet spot.
Fastest top speeds
TP-Link Archer AX6000
OK, so it isn’t technically a gaming router, per se — but the Wi-Fi 6-equipped TP-Link AX6000 is the fastest router we’ve ever tested, period. It nailed our latency tests, too, performing just as well as gaming-minded TP-Link routers like the Archer C5400X. You’ll also find plenty of useful networking features to play within TP-Link’s Tether app.
It’s still early for Wi-Fi 6, but if you’re looking to future-proof your home network for a new generation of devices (gaming or otherwise), this is the router I’d point you toward. Best of all — you can currently get it for a surprisingly reasonable $269. That’s still expensive, yes, but it’s a lot easier to stomach than Wi-Fi 6 gaming routers that cost $400 or more.
Amplifi HD Gamer’s Edition
If you’re looking for a router with gaming-minded features and design, but you’re also interested in multipoint mesh networking, then take a look at the Amplifi HD Gamer’s Edition from Ubiquiti. It wasn’t a standout in our lab-based top-speed tests, but with plug-in range extenders that are about as easy to use as it gets, it excels at spreading a stable, speedy signal from room to room. On top of that, the unique, attractive design doesn’t take up an obnoxious amount of space — and with a touchscreen on the front and LED lights around the base, you’ll actually want to sit out in the open, where it performs better. You’ll also appreciate the app’s easy-to-use features, including a dedicated low-latency mode that can help you tweak your connection and avoid lag.
At $379, it definitely isn’t cheap, but that’s still more or less in line with other high-end mesh networks (for comparison, the new Nest Wifi mesh system costs $349 for a three-piece setup).
Best on a budget
At just $85, the D-Link DIR-867 was the most inexpensive router that I tested for this roundup — and it performed surprisingly well, boasting the fastest average speeds on the 2.4GHz band in both our lab-based top speed tests and our home-based real-world speed tests. It held its own on the speedier 5GHz band, too, beating out several routers that cost significantly more. Die-hards will likely want more features focused on their gaming performance, but the DIR-867 at least includes a quality of service engine to let you prioritize gaming traffic above other types of network traffic. That’s enough for most — especially those who aren’t willing to break the bank for something fancier.
Best for die-hard gamers
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900
It doesn’t offer the same top speeds that you’ll get with Asus’ Wi-Fi 6-equipped GT-AX11000, but that didn’t stop the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 from outperforming it in my home throughout several rounds of tests. In fact, the GT-AC2900 was one of the top finishers in terms of average download speeds, latency, and range. It offers the same excellent suite of gaming features as other gaming routers from Asus, including a customizable Quality of Service engine and game-and-platform-specific open NAT port-forwarding rules. At $238, you won’t pay too painful of a premium for it, and it even includes RGB lighting effects if that’s your thing.